Suffice to say, the last year and a half of school has been unprecedented, challenging for some and nearly impossible for others. When COVID-19 shut down schools in the spring of 2020 many teachers who were used to instilling knowledge through hands-on interactions with children were relegated to video chatting for 6-7 hours a day instead. At the beginning of this school year, some districts reopened while others remained closed, and some adopted a hybrid model where students could come to school while others stayed home and conferenced in. It’s been a long road, but with vaccines widely distributed and vast improvements made to testing infrastructure, it’s looking like many schools will be fully reopening in the fall.
This is great news for parents who will be able to return to work, and children who have sorely missed in-person interactions with their friends. Along with schools fully reopening comes back-to-school shopping, and thankfully the list looks much more like a regular year this time around. We’ve gathered a list of must-have items below for elementary, middle and high school students, who we’re sure are all eagerly awaiting their first day back in the classroom. We’ve still included a few post-pandemic items since schools might have mixed policies on masking and hand sanitizing, but we’ve also included a bunch of regular items such as backpacks, binders, lunch boxes and colored pencils.
1. L.L.Bean Discovery Backpack
This is one of the best backpacks for kids around. It’s made durable with a fun, colorful pattern and has two main compartments for holding their books and homework. It’s got a built-in organizer pocket for keeping small items organized, as well as 3M Scotchlite reflective material on the front and back. It’s made of weatherproof, 600D polyester and has comfy padded straps that are simple to adjust.
L.L.Bean Discovery Backpack
2. Cubcoats Kids Face Masks
Even if schools are deemed safe for reopening, face masks might still be required while inside school buildings, especially amongst children who aren’t old enough to receive the vaccines yet. Face masks for kids are widely available and come in a bunch of cute designs, like these kitty and bear ones from Cubcoats. They’re reusable and hand washable so you can switch off between them and sanitize between uses. They have a metal nose piece built in for a protective fit and elastic ear straps that hold snug.
Buy: Cubcoats Kids Face Mask 2-Pack $9.99
3. KINIA Kids Hand Sanitizer Keychain Carriers 8-Pack
Hand washing and sanitizing is another habit that we think should stick around, especially amongst children. These brightly colored, fun hand sanitizer carriers are about to become your kid’s new favorite accessory. They come in an 8-pack of fun, jelly-wrapped carriers that almost mask the hand washing in a toy. They do come empty, so make sure you purchase bulk hand sanitizer to fill them with before attaching them to your child’s backpack or lunchbox.
Buy: KINIA Hand Sanitizer Carriers $7.95
4. Skip Hop Toddler Backpack
What kid doesn’t get excited about a brand new backpack they get to bring to school? If your child is going to school every day, this backpack is one of the cutest options out there and comes in a bunch of different animal shapes including this dinosaur. It’s made for kids preschool age through kindergarten and has an insulated front pouch so packed snacks and lunch stay at the right temperature. The canvas material and lining is easy to clean and sanitize when they get home every day, and the main compartment is roomy enough to fit their favorite toys, water bottle and more.
Buy: Skip Hop Toddler Backpack $20.00
5. TRENDYMAX Blocks Backpack for School
This backpack is made for older kids who are elementary and middle-school age. It comes in a variety of patterns from galaxy print to this fun LEGO-block pattern. It has a smooth, durable closure and the spacious compartment can hold everything they need for class and beyond with a variety of pockets. It has a 16″ shoulder drop and is made with durable, lightweight fabric that’s easy to sanitize. It also has sturdy YKK zippers, padded shoulders and a back that’ll make even the heaviest books more comfortable to carry.
Buy: Blocks TRENDYMAX Kids Backpack $25.00
6. Samsill Fashion Color 3-Ring Storage Binders
Binders is a standard back to school shopping item even during non-COVID times, and these are a great option for now due to the ability to easily sanitize for them. We recommend opting for a non-fabric binder this year so you can give it a quick and effective wipe down post-school day. This 6-pack has a variety of assorted colors included and has rust-resistant 1-inch rings and double boosters that can hold up to 225 sheets.
Buy: Samsill 3-Ring Binder 6-Pack $11.99
7. Case it Open Tab Monster Eye Strap Binder
This single monster binder is adorable, and perfect for a brand new school year back in person. It’s a bigger binder, with three round ring that all have a 2-inch capacity, and it’s got a large velcro strap that keeps the binder closed. It’s also got a five-subject expandable folder and a large zippered pocket for holding pens, pencils, highlighters and other important things for the classroom.
Buy: Case It Monster Binder $19.99
8. Samsill Fashion Mini 3-Ring Binders
These mini binders are perfect for individual subjects and organizing homework for children. These binders are 1-inch and have small round rings inside that can hold up to 200 sheets of paper. They have two clear pockets in the front and back and are made of durable vinyl over cardboard so they’re designed to last all school year.
Buy: Samsill Fashion Mini Binders $18.68
9. Modern Bethel Kids Pocket Folders 12-Pack
These bright, colorful folders for kids will keep their homework, important paperwork and permission slips safe and organized on the way to and from school. Each one has a cool design on the front ranging from monsters to robots and dinosaurs, and two sturdy pockets for papers. The folders are made of sturdy 300 gsm paper card that’s designed to not rip easily, and the 12-pack ensures your child will have enough of them to last all year.
Buy: Modern Bethel Kids Pocket Folders $11.95
10. Dunwell Plastic Folders With Pockets
If paper folders aren’t durable enough for your child, go with plastic instead. These folders come in six bright colors and have deep pockets that can each hold 50+ pages. They’re flexible, water-resistant, tear-resistant and easy to clean if something spills. They’re acid-free and designed to keep homework and other papers protected.
Buy: Dunwell Plastic Folders With Pockets $9.95
11. OmieBox Bento Box for Kids
This OmieBox Bento Box is a lunchbox for the next generation with a thermos insert designed to keep warm food warm all day long until lunchtime. Don’t send a million smaller containers that you’ll have to clean separately and opt for this convenient and easy-to-fill bento box that also happens to be easy to sanitize. It’s made with durable 304 grade stainless steel and is built to last weighing in at only 1.7 lbs. It’s also BPA-free so you can rest assured knowing you’re keeping your little one safe. The rubber seals that keep this Bento Box sealed shut until your child wants to open it are also easy to remove so you can wash it thoroughly every day after school, and it’s large enough to fit in snacks and keep all food separate.
Buy: OmieBox Bento Box for Kids $39.50
12. FlowFly Kids Insulated Lunch Box
Since your kid won’t be eating lunch at home in the kitchen anymore, they’re going to need a new lunch box! This one is insulated and easy to clean, so food stays cold and you don’t need to stress over messes. It’s made of durable, sturdy fabric and is recommended for kids aged 3-15 years old. It’s made of durable 600D polyester and has food-safe PEVA lining as well. It’s made with sturdy zippers designed to not get stuck and comes in a wide range of colors and patterns.
Buy: FlowFly Kids Insulated Lunch Box $11.99
13. Crayola Back To School Supplies Set
A brand new school year definitely calls for a brand new set of colored pencils, markers and crayons. This pack from Crayola is Amazon-exclusive and includes two packs of 24 crayons, 10 washable broad line markers, 10 washable fine line markers and 12 colored pencils. The washable markers from Crayola are designed to wash out of most clothing after the fact, and the colored pencils come pre sharpened so they’re ready to go out of the box.
Buy: Crayola Back To School Supplies Set $14.99
Remote Learning / Home Schooling
While there will probably be far fewer remote/home learners this year, we expect that some families might still feel more comfortable with this option. We’ve also included some key supplies below for children who are going to continue experiencing the classroom at home.
We asked two teachers, Mr. Moore and Dr. Green, about their recommendations for students when it comes to remote learning successfully. Moore noted that access to good technology is key — as well as reliable internet.
“I would say the biggest issue is access to good technology — we have laptops for all of the students, but what they’re being asked to use those laptops for during remote learning is completely different than what they were being asked to do in the classroom. Access to reliable internet and high-speed internet that allows them to complete forms and have multiple tabs open at the same time.”
Preparing your children through having access to the technology is important, and it may also be a good idea to make sure your internet connection is up to speed and can support the bandwidth that’s going to be needed for these tech-heavy lessons.
Dr. Green remarked that it largely varied based on grade level, and provided insight into what the supplies recommendations are based on age and developmental stage.
“For the younger ages we suggest an iPad with bluetooth keyboard and for the older students they need some sort of a computer or laptop. They need access to wifi and electricity. If you have access to a device with a video camera for virtual meetings and lessons,” said Dr. Green.
“But don’t forget that the younger students need adult supervision with them. This has been the biggest issue for many families. Some parents work out of the house and now they need to figure out what to do about their first grader at home with virtual school.”
14. Amcrest 1080p Webcam with Microphone
In order for your child to communicate with their teacher and the rest of their class you’ll need a solid web cam with a microphone built in. This one from Amcrest can stream in 1080p and comes with a wide 70″ viewing angle so the teacher should be able to see your child even if they move around in their seat a little bit. The microphone has built-in noise reduction in case things get loud in the background, and it attaches via USB so the setup is easy and compatible with Windows and Mac computers.
Buy: Amcrest 1080p Webcam With Microphone $29.98
15. Logitech M325C Kids Wireless Mouse
Your child is probably already a bit experienced in the world of computers, but this mouse is made to fit in smaller hands and will make their days of learning remotely easier. It comes in a variety of fun colors and patterns, and has micro-precise scrolling that makes all navigation on the computer more efficient. The contoured shape is designed to keep your hand comfortable for hours and the textured rubber grips are designed with a child’s grip in mind.
Buy: Logitech Kids Wireless Mouse $17.99
16. Non-Slip Desk Pad
If you’ve got the space, setting up a designated space for your child to work and learn might be worthwhile. They’ll know that study station is theirs and will be more excited to learn there if they’ve made it their own. This non-slip desk pad is great for defining that space and creating a non-slip surface for the mouse to function on and will protect your desk from spills if they decide to bring their breakfast to class with them. It’s made of durable PVC leather on top and suede material underneath that won’t move around. It’s waterproof, oil-proof and easy to clean with a simple wipe down.
Buy: Non-Slip Desk Pad $13.99
17. OCOOPA LED Kids Desk Lamp
Another way to curate your child’s desk space? A fun lamp. This kids desk lamp comes in both a yellow and pink design and has a 360-degree adjustable gooseneck that can easily bend to the exact position your child wants it in. It has 12 LED beads that power the light with no frequent flash, no dizzy light and an eye-friendly glow. It has a built-in rechargeable battery, and a pencil holder at the base of the stem.
Buy: OCOOPA Kids Desk Lamp $13.98
18. Livho Kids Blue Light Blocking Glasses
Since your child doesn’t have to wear a mask at home, getting them to wear these blue light blocking glasses might be a bit easier. Sitting in front of a computer all day isn’t good for anyone, especially little ones with developing eyesight. These glasses will reduce visual fatigue with UV400 protection as well as glare reduction. These frames are ultra-lightweight and flexible, they’re made of eco-friendly TR90 silicone frames that can be twisted and bent without breaking so they’re protective and kid-friendly.
Buy: Livho Kids Blue Light Blocking Glasses $14.97
19. Zicac Chair Increasing Cushion
If you’re setting your child up at the dining room table or your desk chances are they might need a bit of a boost to reach a comfortable height, especially for using the computer. This booster seat is made of high-density soft sponge so it acts as a comfortable seat cushion and a booster seat at the same time. It’s made of durable, anti-wrinkle fabric that’s also abrasion-resistant. It has an adjustable belt for attaching to a variety of chairs and has a removable cover that can be easily disassembled and machine-washed. It’s also lightweight and portable making it ideal to take to a restaurant or movie theater in addition to using it at home during remote learning.
Buy: Zicac Portable Booster Seat Cushion $24.99
20. Learning Resources Time Tracker
Something that will definitely help everyone during these days of remote learning is a timer. Keep your day and each lesson on track with this handy simple timer with three different lights and an optional alarm to alert your child that it’s time for class or that class is over. It’s very easy to use and even features a warning time option. Use it for bribed countdowns to keep your child in their seat is necessary!
Buy: Time Tracker Mini $18.30
Moore noted that in addition to the technological equipment that connects students to teachers and vice versa, the usual supplies that students would have access to in a classroom is also crucial to have for remote learning, especially for younger children.
“Being completely set up and having all of those different things is important, but then also having the actual physical pencil, paper, workbooks, extension activities, having access to a computer that can connect to the printer is important,” Moore said. “All of those tech things that I mentioned are on [my list] but also the traditional school supplies like for my daughter — the scissors, crayons, all of those things that we would want in the classroom at school we need to have at her disposal at home too.”
21. 45 Piece School Supply Kit Grades K-12
Home schooling or not, your child will need supplies. Rather than piecing everything together separately this 45-piece set has everything they’ll need to get started with the year at home or in the classroom with notebooks, folders, pencils, highlighters, crayons and more. The products are all compliant with safety standards and made for kids to use. Save yourself time and an extra step in preparing for the year and order this bulk set in one go.
Buy: 45-Piece Bulk School Supply Set $17.99
The Best Face Masks for Kids Are Soft, Secure & Breathable
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